Paved access roads may be banned to reduce flood waters and river pollution.
The government is studying new rules that would limit the driveways of new homes to what materials they can use on their surfaces.
Rebecca Poe, Minister of Water Resources, announced this. Telegraph new developments will have to prove they have sustainable drainage systems before they are allowed to connect to local sewers.
Here’s everything you need to know about it.
Why introduce new rules?
New measures are being considered in an attempt to prevent stormwater systems from overflowing and diverting sewage into local rivers.
“A lot of water ends up in our drains and mixes with wastewater that shouldn’t be there,” Pou said.
She said the government acted “as quickly as possible” on what she said was a hidden problem before water companies began tracking their flash floods over the past five years.
“While you could say that the situation is not what we would like, I am very happy and proud to be here as Minister of Water Resources, promoting this,” she said. “We literally paid more attention to it than ever.”
In the constituency of Poe, the River Tone was found to have unacceptable levels of chemical pollution, while nearby levels of Somerset suffered from phosphate pollution from agricultural runoff.
What can change?
Under the new rules under consideration, new developments will have to prove they have sustainable drainage systems before they are allowed to connect to local sewers to avoid overflowing and runoff into rivers.
This will likely include restrictions on paved driveways, as well as the possible creation of ponds to allow water to soak into the ground rather than drain into sewers, where it could cause sewer systems to overflow.
Poe told The Telegraph: “We need semi-permeable membranes on our driveways, not asphalt, so that rainwater doesn’t run off but soak in.”
There is also some suggestion that large residential complexes should invest in new sewer infrastructure to avoid overloading the existing network.
It is not clear how much power Pou has as a junior minister to implement any changes.
The existing provisions of the environmental bill, passed only after a sharp turnaround caused by an uprising of 22 Conservative MPs, have been rejected by river pollution groups as inadequate.
The version of this article originally appeared in our sister header, NationalPeace